Legal Articles

Breach of Trust, Sole Discretion

Fiduciary and trust litigation can be very complex. In certain trust instruments, a trustee is granted “sole discretion” to do certain things. This language, however, can be very misleading. Even when a trustee is granted “sole discretion,” a trustee may be liable if the trustee willfully abuses his discretion, acts arbitrarily, fraudulently, dishonestly, or with…

Powers of Attorney, Dealings with Third Persons

While powers of attorney are useful tools to allow one person (the attorney-in-fact) to act another person’s behalf (the principal), third-parties are sometimes distrustful of a power of attorney. A power of attorney is relatively easy to create. There are many forms online, including from state bar associations, that seemingly anyone can print and use….

Power of Attorney and Attorney-in-Fact Liability

Power of attorney instruments for finances are common estate planning tools. The parties to a power of attorney are the principal and attorney-in-fact. The principal designates and nominates the attorney-in-fact to engage in specified and authorized activities on the principal’s behalf. The attorney-in-fact is a fiduciary and must act in the principal’s interests. The relationship…

Duress versus Undue Influence; Trust Contests & Litigation

In estate, will and trust litigation, duress and undue influence are sometimes alleged together. However, while they overlap in some areas, they are distinct legal theories. To claim duress, a person must be oppressed by the wrongful conduct of another. In re Estate of McKenna, 500 S.W.3d 850, 860 (Mo. Ct. App. 2016). It is…

Dead Man's Statute

Section 491.010, RSMo contains Missouri’s version of the so-called “Dead Man’s Statute.” It provides, in relevant part, that “in any…suit…where one of the parties…or his agent…is dead or is shown to be incompetent…then any relevant statement or statements made by the decedent party or agent or by the incompetent prior to his incompetency, shall not…

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